Monday, October 30, 2017

How We Practice Contextualization In Ministry (Whether We Realize It Or Not)

Photo Credit: DVS1mn
From Timothy Keller's Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City:
"All gospel ministry and communication are already heavily adapted to a particular culture. So it is important to do contextualization consciously. If we never deliberately think through ways to rightly contextualize gospel ministry to a new culture, we will unconsciously be deeply contextualized to some other culture.  
Our gospel ministry will be both overadapted to our own culture and underadapted to new cultures at once, which ultimately leads to a distortion of the Christian message. The subject of contextualization is particularly hard to grasp for members of socially dominant groups. Because ethnic minorities must live in two cultures — the dominant culture and their own subculture — they frequently become aware of how deeply culture affects the way we perceive things.  
In the movie Gran Torino, an older blue-collar American named Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) lives alongside an Asian family in a deteriorating Detroit neighborhood. He finds it impossible to understand the cultural forms of the Hmongs, just as the elderly Hmongs (who cannot speak English and live completely within their ethnic enclave) find Walt strange and inexplicable. But the teenage Hmong girl, Sue, is bicultural — she lives in both worlds at once. So she understands and appreciates both Walt and her own parents and grandparents. As a result, she is able to communicate persuasively to both about the other. Isn’t this the very thing we are doing whenever we present the truth of the gospel to a culture that has alienated itself from it? 
In the United States, Anglo-Americans’ public and private lives are lived in the same culture. As a result, they are often culturally clueless. They relate to their own culture in the same way a fish that, when asked about water, said, “What’s water?” If you have never been out of water, you don’t know you are in it. Anglo Christians sometimes find talk of contextualization troubling. They don’t see any part of how they express or live the gospel to be “Anglo” — it is just the way things are. They feel that any change in how they preach, worship, or minister is somehow a compromise of the gospel. 
In this they may be doing what Jesus warns against — elevating the “traditions of men” to the same level as biblical truth (Mark 7:8). This happens when one’s cultural approach to time or emotional expressiveness or way to communicate becomes enshrined as the Christian way to act and live. 
Bruce Nicholls writes the following: 
"A contemporary example of cultural syncretism is the unconscious identification of biblical Christianity with “the American way of life.” This form of syncretism is often found in both Western and Third World, middle-class, suburban, conservative, evangelical congregations who seem unaware that their lifestyle has more affinity to the consumer principles of capitalistic society than to the realities of the New Testament, and whose enthusiasm for evangelism and overseas missions is used to justify [lives of materialism and complacency]."  
Lack of cultural awareness leads to distorted Christian living and ministry. Believers who live in individualistic cultures such as the United States are blind to the importance of being in deep community and placing themselves under spiritual accountability and discipline. This is why many church hoppers attend a variety of churches and don’t join or fully enter any of them. American Christians see church membership as optional. They take a non-biblical feature of American culture and bring it into their Christian life. 
On the other hand, Christians in more authoritarian and patriarchal cultures often are blind to what the Bible says about freedom of conscience and the grace-related aspects of Christianity. Instead, their leaders stress duty and are heavy-handed rather than eager to follow Jesus’ words that “if anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35). 
An inability to see one’s own enculturation has other results. One of the most basic mistakes ministers make is to regurgitate the methods and programs that have personally influenced them. After experiencing the impact of a ministry in one part of the world, they take up the programs and methods of that ministry and reproduce them elsewhere virtually unchanged. If they have been moved by a ministry that has forty-five-minute verse-by-verse expository sermons, a particular kind of singing, or a specific order and length to the services, they reproduce it down to the smallest detail. Without realizing it, they become method driven and program driven rather than theologically driven. They are contextualizing their ministry expression to themselves, not to the people they want to reach. 
I have been moved to see how churches and ministries around the world have looked at what we do at Redeemer Presbyterian Church and how they have expressed their appreciation and have sought to learn from this ministry. But I have been disappointed to visit some congregations that have imitated our programs — even our bulletins — and haven’t grasped the underlying theological principles that animate us. In other words, they haven’t done the hard work of contextualization, reflecting on their own cultural situation and perspective to seek to better communicate the gospel to their own context. They have also failed to spend time reflecting on what they see in Redeemer and how we have adapted our ministry to an urban U.S. culture. 
Everyone contextualizes — but few think much about how they are doing it. We should not only contextualize but also think about how we do it. We must make our contextualization processes visible, and then intentional, to ourselves and to others."

Saturday, August 05, 2017

July Web Roundup

Photo Credit: Joanbrebo
Here is a collection of items from around the web that caught my attention the past several weeks:

A Checkpoint for Your Ambition by Michael Kelley (For the Gospel)
"Ambition is the strong desire to do something or achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work. Nothing wrong there; ambition, like so many other things, is neither good or bad. It is simply a desire that can either be redeemed or corrupted. Like most anything else involving desire – sex, power, eating – the question becomes how that desire is fulfilled. That fulfillment, though, is where things get complicated."
Six Reasons We Must Seek Solitude by Todd Gaddis (LifeWay)
"I recently wore out a set of tires prematurely due to an alignment problem. Likewise, we wear ourselves out and minister ineffectively when out of alignment. Solitude helps us recalibrate. Take Elijah for example. Fearful and exhausted, he fled into the wilderness, yearning to die. Thankfully, following a period of rejuvenation, he left the presence of the Lord with a renewed outlook and updated assignment (1 Kings 19:15-16). According to Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline, “goals are discovered, not made.” Our chances of making such a find increases exponentially in solitude. Early African converts to Christianity found time and eagerly participated in private devotions. It is said that each person had an isolated spot in the thicket where he/she would commune alone with God. In the course of time, their paths to these places became well worn. Consequently, if one grew lax in this discipline, it soon became apparent to others. They would then lovingly remind the negligent one, “Brother, the grass grows on your path.”
It's Disadvantaged Groups That Suffer Most When Free Speech Is Curtailed on Campus by Musa Al-Gharbi & Jonathan Haidt (The Atlantic)
"In virtue of their heavy reliance on taxpayer funding and major donors, public colleges are much more receptive to calls from outside the university to punish faculty and staff for espousing controversial speech or ideas. Groups like Professor Watchlist, Campus Reform, or Campus Watch exploit this vulnerability, launching populist campaigns to get professors fired, or to prevent them from being hired, on the basis of something they said. The primary targets of these efforts end up being mostly women, people of color, and religious minorities (especially Muslims and the irreligious) when they too forcefully or bluntly condemn systems, institutions, policies, practices, and ideologies they view as corrupt, exploitative, oppressive, or otherwise intolerable."
Between Two Cultures: How Latina Christians Approach Leadership by Andrea Ramirez (Christianity Today)
"What is unique to Hispanic students is their home life. If parents are not assimilated to “American” culture, there is a great disconnect that occurs with their student. There is a lack of understanding of the pressures their children are facing at school, most of it peer pressure to belong. Ironically, what may have most provoked parents to move to the United States—an education—can become the cause of a slipping apart between parents and children. I can't stress enough how great a conflict this can cause. Teen years are turbulent, anyway. Add to it the pressure that students feel in an environment they may not completely understand, and the pressure from peers, teachers, and from home ... It can be very overwhelming."
Implicit Bias vs Explicit Bias (By Their Strange Fruit)
"Racial implicit bias manifests itself in everything from assumptions about sports prowess, to who we hire/fire, to who we are afraid of as we walk down the street. To combat our implicit biases, we must first become aware of their existence (try an IAT test!), so that we can consciously combat their effects on our thought processes and actions. Implicit bias can’t be fixed with colorblindness, in fact colorblindness makes it worse. While overt racism never really went away, over the years implicit bias was allowed to take root and fester, unexamined and unchecked. The result has been decades of accumulated disparity, often perpetuated by unwitting 'basically good' people. Resumes were overlooked, mortgages and leases were declined, school applications were denied--indeed innocent people were shot. All because largely well-meaning people, acted on their implicit biases, often without even realizing they are contributing to systemic racism in our society."
Reading Wars by Philip Yancey
"I’ve concluded that a commitment to reading is an ongoing battle, somewhat like the battle against the seduction of internet pornography. We have to build a fortress with walls strong enough to withstand the temptations of that powerful dopamine rush while also providing shelter for an environment that allows deep reading to flourish.  Christians especially need that sheltering space, for quiet meditation is one of the most important spiritual disciplines. As a writer in the age of social media, I host a Facebook page and a website and write an occasional blog.  Thirty years ago I got a lot of letters from readers, and they did not expect an answer for a week or more.  Now I get emails, and if they don’t hear back in two days they write again, “Did you get my email?”  The tyranny of the urgent crowds in around me."
50 Years Later: Remembering the Detroit Riots of 1967 by Candace Howze (Urban Faith)
"Much of the city was destroyed during the riots, leaving thousands without a place to work or live, and businesses that were unharmed shut down for safety purposes. Taylor and his brother worked for General Motors at the time and were told not to go into work because of the hostile atmosphere throughout the city, which included curfew violations, fights, and multiple fires. Looters continued to steal millions of dollars of merchandise, including a few of Taylor’s friends who stole TV sets from a local business. “It got so bad that they canceled our work because it was too dangerous to move. Black people were mad and white people were scared and everyone was kinda scared to go anywhere.”"
Hugh Freeze and the Peril of Public Faith by Cameron Cole (The Gospel Coalition)
"No matter the Christian—whether the non-drinking teenager, the stay-at-home mom, or the preacher—if he or she projects an air that righteousness comes from religious performance, he or she will be viewed as self-righteous. When that person demonstrates even a hint of moral failure, detractors will pile on the charge of hypocrisy. What non-Christians seem to hate most about believers is the perception of moral superiority. And when well-known Christians fall, some take opportunity to say, “See, you’re not any better than I am.” And they’re right. Absolutely right."
Little Girl Won't Let Her Mother Be Alone

I'm sure moms everywhere can relate to this little girl who just won't let her mom use the restroom in peace and quiet.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Weekly Web Roundup (7/1/17)

Photo Credit: Golden_Ribbon
Here is a collection of items from around the web that caught my attention the past couple of weeks:

Watch Your Mouth by Randy Nabors
"The consciousness of racial injustice and its attendant social, economic, psychic, emotional, and physical realities are like a punch in the gut.  We have no alternative but to spell them out, to both the ignorant and the resistant.  Yet, if we allowed hate to fill us, these truths could inflame our hearts and push us to be fiery-eyed zealots and avengers, we instead seek to speak the truth in love; as Ephesians 4:15 teaches us to do.  This is not always easy to do, to speak hard truths in love.  We cannot be flippant about what love means (claiming we love people but producing no demonstrable proof) in our communication, especially not in having read the James passage in how the “wisdom from above” is to be imparted.  In other words people who hear hard truths from us must also hear and feel the love as far as it may depend on us."
Surprise! We Need to Learn from Christians from Other Cultures by Amy Medina
"When we talk about church in America with our Tanzanian friends, it's their turn to be shocked.  Your church services are only an hour and fifteen minutes long?  And that's the only service you attend all week?  And you've never, ever done an all-night prayer vigil? Like, never?  Are there even any Christians in America? In America, your devotion to Christ is measured by the amount of personal time you spend in prayer and Bible study.  Am I right or am I right?  Well, in Tanzania, your devotion to Christ is measured by the amount of time you spend in prayer and worship with others. Of course, you might protest that measuring godliness sounds like legalism.  Which is true--but we still do it, don't we? If you are American, what would you say to a Christian who never did personal devotions, but spent many hours every week in church worship services? Would you even know where to put that person in your spiritual hierarchy?  And would you be able to back up your conclusion with Scripture? It's easy for us, as foreigners, to come to Tanzania and point out what they are doing wrong. Those deficiencies pop up to us broadly and clearly.  But I wonder, what if a Tanzanian Christian came to the States and was given a voice in the white American Church?  What deficiencies would be glaringly obvious to him?"
I preached about a gun rights advocate. He wasn't who I thought. by Amy Butler (USA Today)
"I sat there, startled briefly by the unlikely situation in which we found ourselves. We couldn’t be more different. But Todd and I share at least one fundamental belief: nobody is the stereotype we believe they are. We do ourselves and our world a fundamental disservice when we won’t summon the courage to listen to each other and try as hard as we can to find the things we share, small as they may be."
Poll shows a dramatic generational divide in white evangelical attitudes on gay marriage by Sarah Pulliam Bailey (The Washington Post)
"The question for many evangelicals has been whether LGBT issues are matters where they can agree to disagree and still work together, perhaps like the question of when children should be baptized or whether women can be ordained. When the issue came up for World Vision, one of the largest Christian nonprofits in the country, in 2012, the answer was a sharp no — it lost thousands of donors right away. And InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a major ministry, announced last fall that its employees must affirm its views that marriage is between a man and a woman. Some evangelicals believe there’s a difference between supporting gay marriage as a public policy matter and gay marriage as sanctioned by churches. A large majority of white evangelicals (including younger generations) continue to see homosexual relations as morally wrong, according to the General Social Survey. The 2016 survey found 75 percent of white evangelicals saying homosexual sexual relations are always or nearly always wrong. That number is down from 82 percent in 1996 and 90 percent in 1987. The survey does not show a large generational gap, however. In 2014-2016 surveys, 70 percent of Generation X/millennial white evangelicals said same-sex sexual relations are nearly always or always wrong, compared to 81 percent of baby boomers/older generations."
7 ways the iPhone has made life worse by Kara Alaimo (CNN)

I'm an iPhone user but I share the concerns listed in this article from Kara Alaimo. Here she lists seven ways that she feels our smartphones have made our lives worse:
1. They're bad for our brains.
2. While we're busy on our phones, we're ignoring the world around us.
3. We're also ignoring one other.
4. They're ruining our relationships.
5. They promote FOMO ("fear of missing out") syndrome.
6. We have come to need constant validation.
7. We're expected to be available for work 24-7.
Smartphones can be useful if we use them and they don't use us. But these concerns are worth considering.

My 3 Big Fears in Parenting Teenagers by Trevin Wax (The Gospel Coalition)
"As fathers and mothers, we model the love of God to our kids in different ways. I know that whenever my children think of their Heavenly Father, they will in some way associate Him with their earthly father. The responsibility of modeling the character of God to my children makes me feel so honored and so inadequate. My fear for the teenage years is that, in the midst of the drama, the mood swings, the debates and disagreements, and the inevitable growth of independence, I will respond in ways that push my kids away from God instead of toward Him. That I will consistently model something untrue about God. For this reason, I pray that God would give me a soft and repentant heart, a willingness to own up to my sins, so that our kids would see that leadership in the home is not opposed to admitting I'm wrong, or that I need forgiveness. I also pray that God will not allow my fear of making mistakes to make me passive and thus forfeit my leadership role through apathy. A good father needs to have a combination of grace and boldness, with strands of love and authority tied so tightly you can't untangle one without the other."

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Wisdom on Sorrow From Oswald Chambers

Photo Credit: MorkiRo
Taken from today's entry from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers:
"As a saint of God, my attitude toward sorrow and difficulty should not be to ask that they be prevented, but to ask that God protect me so that I may remain what He created me to be, in spite of all my fires of sorrow. Our Lord received Himself, accepting His position and realizing His purpose, in the midst of the fire of sorrow. He was saved not from the hour, but out of the hour. 
We say that there ought to be no sorrow, but there is sorrow, and we have to accept and receive ourselves in its fires. If we try to evade sorrow, refusing to deal with it, we are foolish. Sorrow is one of the biggest facts in life, and there is no use in saying it should not be. Sin, sorrow, and suffering are, and it is not for us to say that God has made a mistake in allowing them. 
Sorrow removes a great deal of a person’s shallowness, but it does not always make that person better. Suffering either gives me to myself or it destroys me. You cannot find or receive yourself through success, because you lose your head over pride. And you cannot receive yourself through the monotony of your daily life, because you give in to complaining. The only way to find yourself is in the fires of sorrow. Why it should be this way is immaterial. The fact is that it is true in the Scriptures and in human experience. 
You can always recognize who has been through the fires of sorrow and received himself, and you know that you can go to him in your moment of trouble and find that he has plenty of time for you. But if a person has not been through the fires of sorrow, he is apt to be contemptuous, having no respect or time for you, only turning you away. If you will receive yourself in the fires of sorrow, God will make you nourishment for other people."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Weekly Web Roundup (6/21/17)

Photo Credit: Richard Bromley
Here is a collection of items from around the web that caught my attention the past couple of weeks:

How Billy Graham Mainstreamed Evangelicals by Frances Fitzgerald (The Daily Beast)
"Graham was, as he himself said, still a country boy. Tall and awkward, he had a rough-hewn voice and was given to flailing his arms and stabbing the air with a raised finger. When he told Bible stories, he used slangy vernacular and acted out the parts—preening and strutting in the role of Belshazzar, or prancing around like an uppity pig in the story of the Prodigal Son. Calling for revival, he would stalk the platform, assaulting the audience with vivid descriptions of the horrors that came from man’s rebellion against God. According to his Youth for Christ peers, Graham had a kind of incandescence on the platform that came from his passionate sincerity."
Practicing Privilege in the Local Church by Michelle Van Loon (Patheos)
"Most of us are occupied trying to get our needs met for belonging and significance. Those needs are really important! God himself wired us that way. When a church staff, each holding positions of social privilege within that small community, are focused on their own “interpersonal dynamics and church politics”, it communicates that they might be focused on getting their needs for belonging and significance met. The experience B. had in the church gave him a new way to think about how he’d functioned in his previous role as pastor. Though he was a very others-focused, servant-hearted guy, he recognized he’d succumbed to the temptation to form and hoard a clique around himself so he could get those needs of his met."
The Number One Reason Missionaries Go Home by Paul Akin (The Gospel Coalition)

I have heard it often communicated that the primary reason why missionaries leave the field is because of difficulties with other team members. Here, Paul Akin suggests five common reasons why this happens: 1) Unmet expectations, 2) Conflict, 3) Stress 4) Comparison/Jealousy and 5) Sin. He briefly offers a few suggestions as solutions.

If Humble People Make the Best Leaders, Why Do We Fall for Charismatic Narcissists by Margarita Mayo
"Charismatic leaders can be prone to extreme narcissism that leads them to promote highly self-serving and grandiose aims.” A clinical study illustrates that when charisma overlaps with narcissism, leaders tend to abuse their power and take advantage of their followers. Another study indicates that narcissistic leaders tend to present a bold vision of the future, and this makes them more charismatic in the eyes of others. Why are such leaders more likely to rise to the top? One study suggests that despite being perceived as arrogant, narcissistic individuals radiate “an image of a prototypically effective leader.” Narcissistic leaders know how to draw attention toward themselves. They enjoy the visibility. It takes time for people to see that these early signals of competence are not later realized, and that a leader’s narcissism reduces the exchange of information among team members and often negatively affects group performance."
The Uniqueness of University Evangelism by Tim Keller & Michael Keller (The Gospel Coalition)
"Universities create environments that encourage students to rethink the beliefs of their upbringing, including their meaning in life, values, and identity. That, of course, is a challenge to students who come into undergraduate courses with a Christian faith. But it also means students from other backgrounds and communities are dislodged from them and are freer to consider the claims of Christianity than they would’ve been at home. Also, while it may be considered impolite in much of society to try to convert people to your belief system, on university campuses this is essentially what everyone’s trying to do to everyone else, with vigor. The free market of ideas and the discussions that ensue inside and outside the lecture room aren’t value-neutral exchanges, but rather places of persuasion where individuals debate and accept differing explanations of the good, the true, and the beautiful. Evangelism fits right in."
Why Parents Need To Limit Screens And Make Boredom Great Again by Brooke Shannon (The Federalist)
"Unfortunately, the increasing ubiquity of screens diminishes opportunities for children’s brains to wander, create, and imagine. From carpools to the classroom to big sister’s sporting events to the dinner table, screens are destroying boredom. Why would a six-year-old stare out the car window or talk to a friend on the way to school when the latest episode of “Paw Patrol” is on? If a three-year-old can play a game on a tablet, why would he watch his big brother’s soccer game? Many waiting rooms have become quieter, and some dinner tables have gone silent. But at what cost? Too much screen time—and not enough boredom—can lead to poor social skills, shorter attention spans, and a need for instant gratification. How many future inventors will be lost without experiencing boredom? Where will the great orators and writers of this generation come from if imagination is not nurtured today?"
Why We Argue Best with Our Mouths Shut by Christine Herman (Christianity Today)
"The problem with persuasion is not just that people are stubborn; people change their minds all the time about all sorts of things. The real challenge arises when someone’s beliefs are tied to their identity. If changing your belief means changing your identity, it comes at the risk of rejection from the community of people with whom you share that identity. Knowing this, it’s not surprising that people tend to seek out information that confirms a belief and outright reject anything that conflicts with it, says Dan Kahan, a psychology professor at Yale Law School. 
“They might not perceive it that way consciously,” he says. But research has shown that this phenomenon—known to psychologists as confirmation bias—is real. Kahan illustrates with a sports analogy: “Fans of opposing teams tend to see different things when there’s a close call,” he says. “And it wouldn’t be good if you stood up on your side of the stadium and said, ‘I think the guy really was out of bounds.’ ” Being rejected by the group around which we have formed our identity can be painful. Thus, in the face of evidence that runs contrary to our beliefs, it only makes sense that we put up our guard."
What Apple Thought the iPhone Might Look Like in 1995 by Adrienne LaFrance (The Atlantic)
"To those who had been watching Apple since the 1980s, however, shrinking computers and videophones seemed to be always just tantalizingly out of reach, emblems of a future that would, fingers crossed, eventually arrive. But when? By 1995, even though Apple’s laptops had dipped to a svelte six pounds, and the transformative power of the internet was becoming apparent, the next great iteration of the web was barely imaginable. Today’s mobile web, the one that would be ushered in by smartphones, was still out of reach. But there were hints of what was to come."
Stuff Dads Never Say

I had the privilege of visiting my home church in Michigan - Colonial Woods Missionary Church - this past Sunday, Father's Day. This video was shown during the service and I got a big kick out of it.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Diversifying Leadership in Non-Profit Organizations

Photo Credit:
Global Partnership for Education - GPE
One of the greatest challenges facing non-profit organizations that are seeking to be ethnically diverse is understanding that it is not just about having a diverse staff. Having more ethnic minorities in the top levels of leadership is critical for organizations that are seeking to become more diverse. But a multitude of barriers often exist in turning this vision into reality.

A recent study by the Building Movement Project-- Race to Lead: Confronting the Nonprofit Racial Leadership Gap -- illustrates that many attitudes about how a non-profit can increase its number of leaders of color might not be accurate.

Cyndi Suarez of NonProfit Quarterly comments on the findings:
"The report has a high-level message: “The results call into question the common assumption that to increase the diversity of nonprofit leaders, People of Color (POC) need more training. The findings point to a new narrative. To increase the number of People of Color leaders, the nonprofit sector needs to address the practices and biases of those governing nonprofit organizations.” 
In other words, while many investments in people of color leadership focus on training and other capacity building for people of color, the real need for capacity building is with the people who hire for executive leadership positions. 
Other studies have hinted at this. The Daring to Lead reports of 2006 and 2011 of more than 3,000 nonprofit leaders found that 82 percent of respondents were white. More recently, in BoardSource’s 2015 Leading with Intent report of non-profit boards, 89 percent percent of respondents identified as white. For over a decade now, survey reports consistently show that less than 20 percent of nonprofit executive leaders are people of color."
The report indicates that while it is important to intentionally focus on the development of leaders of color -- just as that is important for any emerging leader -- much greater emphasis needs to be placed on the development of non-profit leaders in the areas of cultural intelligence. In many non-profits there are structural and organizational barriers that limit the opportunity for ethnic minorities to advance in leadership.

Here are some of the specific conclusions drawn from the report:
› It’s NOT about Differences in Background or QualificationsPeople of color and white respondents have similar backgrounds in education, position, salary, and years working in the nonprofit sector. 
› It’s NOT about a Lack of AspirationsPeople of color aspire to be leaders more than white respondents. For those who do not aspire to leadership, most—across race—are looking to maintain work/personal life balance. But people of color who are not aspiring leaders are more likely to be looking for jobs outside of the nonprofit sector. 
› It’s NOT about Skills and PreparationMost aspiring leaders thought they had the qualities needed to be a good leader. When asked about the training they received, people of color and whites had few differences in the areas of financial skills, goal setting, articulating a vision, advocacy, and collaboration. People of color were more likely to see themselves as visionary and able to relate to their target population, but less ready to fund raise than whites. 
› It IS an Uneven Playing FieldThe majority of aspiring leaders feel prepared to take on an executive role. However, over a third reported they want more technical and management skills, with POC respondents identifying this need more often than whites. People of color were more likely than white respondents to see race/ethnicity as a barrier to their advancement. 
› It IS the Frustration of “Representing”All respondents have challenges, but people of color are significantly more frustrated by the stress of being called upon to represent a community. They are also more challenged by inadequate salaries, the need for role models, lack of social capital/networks, and the need for relationships with funding sources. 
› It’s NOT Personal, It IS the SystemRespondents across race squarely identify the lack of people of color in top leadership roles as a structural problem for the nonprofit sector. They believe that executive recruiters and boards could do more to diversify leadership. Whether due to bias or other factors, respondents of color were more likely than whites to agree it is harder for people of color to fund raise. They also were more likely than whites to see barriers to people of color advancing either because of smaller professional networks and/or the need for more training.
For leaders like myself that serve in predominately white non-profit organizations, it's especially important for us to realize that much of the work that needs to be done in becoming more diverse starts with us. If we as leaders have a myopic perspective on leadership and don't possess the understanding of cultural contexts other than our own, we will continue to create and perpetuate structures and systems that prevent some of the very things we say we want to see happen.

You can download the full report here.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Weekly Web Roundup (6/10/17)

Photo Credit: pennstatenews
Here is a collection of items from around the web that caught my attention the past few weeks:

How "Race Tests" Maintain Evangelical Segregation by Joshua L. Lazard (Religion Dispatches)
"As the Bracey/Moore study alludes to, these evangelical churches are spaces that on paper claim that, to put it colloquially, “race doesn’t matter,” or “It doesn’t matter what color Jesus is.” But obviously it does. Reality shows that ecclesiastical segregation is a sociological trend that exists beyond just white evangelical churches. It also includes congregations and denominations that are decidedly liberal and stand at the opposite end of the theological spectrum. Studies have shown time and time again that this segregation has held true for a multiplicity of reasons. While these reasons range from the difference of praise and worship style and doctrinal differences, to residential segregation or the preference of non-whites creating affirming spaces of their own, white liberal churches aren’t excused from being a part of white institutional spaces as defined by this study."
Being Black, a Woman and an Evangelical by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson (Missio Alliance)
"For those black people who are conscious of this American history and still desire to remain true to the scriptural principles of evangelicalism, it costs us something to present ourselves as evangelical. For the most part, we are able to confidently make this claim because we have been trained in evangelical institutions, we love Jesus and the Good Book, and we believe in the gospel as the ministry of reconciliation. It also means that we often find ourselves leading and ministering in predominately white spaces, churches and institutions. It means that we are often one of a few ethnic minorities within white evangelicalism challenging the thoughts and actions surrounding diversity (or most often the lack thereof), racial reconciliation and biblical justice. We are often on tap to contribute to conversations but rarely on payroll to make decisions."
Considering (and Surviving) Unhealthy Christian Organizations, part 1 by Ed Stetzer (Christianity Today: The Exchange)
"Many times, the leader gets a pass for the fruit of his/her leadership because of some overwhelming characteristic: preaching ability, intelligence, ability to woo others, or more. Yet, the fruit remains below-- a culture toxic to all who swim downstream. The leader is often seen (from the outside) as a great leader, but those inside know him/her as someone who is, well, more concerned about outside appearance than godly leadership."
Sports Spectrum Podcast Interview with Ernie Johnson

The personal story of NBA on TNT studio host Ernie Johnson is powerful. As someone that became a Christian later in life, his family's journey of faith through cancer, adoption and other challenges related to their special needs child is challenging. This interview with Jason Romano is worth a listen.

Are You Married to Your Smartphone? by Dave Boehi (Family Life)
"Adjusting to new forms of technology is nothing new. Just think how telephones and automobiles changed our culture. Or air-conditioning. Radio, television, computers, and many other new inventions sparked significant changes in our culture and in the way we related to our family and friends. But the pace of change since 1995 has been breathtaking. We’ve seen the emergence of the internet and of mobile phones, and then the convergence of the two in 2006 with smartphones. We can now be plugged in wherever we are, 24/7. The technology is evolving so quickly that most of us are barely aware of how our behavior is changing and our relationships are affected. As one reader wrote after I wrote about this issue a few years ago, “These mobile devices can take over your life.” Another said, “I understand technology has its advantages, but we are being ruled by the technology rather than using it as a tool.”
How the Internet is Changing Friendship (The Atlantic)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Weekly Web Roundup (5/20/17)

Photo Credit: sheldon0531
Here is a collection of items from around the web that caught my attention this past week:

A conversation with Andy Crouch about family and technology from Russell Moore

In this episode of the Signposts podcast, Dr. Moore offers an enlightening conversation with author Andy Crouch. They discuss how parents can create healthy boundaries with their children regarding technology use.

Standing Rock changed how I see America by W. Kamau Bell (CNN)
"I can't imagine what it must be like to be one of the indigenous people of the United States of America. I can't imagine watching the news every day -- as people debate whose country this is and who should be in charge of it and how to make it great again -- and hardly ever see your people brought into the discussion. As a black person in this country, I am always frustrated by the lack of attention my people's issues get. But at least the news and politicians are talking about not talking about our issues. Native issues are basically ignored."
Jesus, the Frybread of Life by Deborah Pardo-Kaplan (Christianity Today)

Here's a great profile of the work of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IV) as it pertains to Native American college students. Cru's Native ministry -- Nations -- partners closely with IV and is mentioned in the article.

My Family’s Slave by Alex Tizon (The Atlantic)
"She was 18 years old when my grandfather gave her to my mother as a gift, and when my family moved to the United States, we brought her with us. No other word but slave encompassed the life she lived. Her days began before everyone else woke and ended after we went to bed. She prepared three meals a day, cleaned the house, waited on my parents, and took care of my four siblings and me. My parents never paid her, and they scolded her constantly. She wasn’t kept in leg irons, but she might as well have been. So many nights, on my way to the bathroom, I’d spot her sleeping in a corner, slumped against a mound of laundry, her fingers clutching a garment she was in the middle of folding."
Why People Fight Online (The Barna Group)
"“Our most fraught conversations seem to have moved from the dinner table to the screen,” says Roxanne Stone, editor in chief at Barna Group. “However there are very few rules of etiquette in place for the internet yet. Where once family members could put a stop to an argument with a cry of ‘no religion or politics at the table!’ the digital world does everything to encourage such debates. And, of course, it’s a lot easier to be an anonymous jerk to a stranger than it is to yell at your mom. “Yet, there is a real person on the other end of that comment and online bullying has proven to be a truly destructive force,” says Stone. “The number of teen suicides attributed to it is but one extreme and horrifying example of its potency. Our level of civility and straight-up kindness should not be dependent on whether we are physically with a person or whether we know them. It’s easy to disembody the messages we read online and imagine our own posts are simply going out into an indifferent void. But real people are really hurt by the things said about and against them online."
The Blessing of Conflict by Chanequa Walker-Barnes (Collegeville Institute)
"The therapeutic definition of conflict is simple: a difference of opinion between two or more people. In this sense, conflict was not inherently bad; in fact, it was evidence of the family’s capacity to allow and cope with self-differentiation among its members. In a healthy family system, members have both a strong sense of group cohesion as well as clearly developed individual identities. The way in which families managed the dinner exercise told us something about that. On this task, a healthy family was one in which people offered different ideas about what they wanted, and then they worked through it to agree upon a menu that accommodated some, although not necessarily all, of those differences."
This Is All of Us - Mandy, Milo, Sterling and Chrissy Surprise Fans

NBC's "This is Us" became one of my favorite shows this past year. This video shows the stars of the show unexpectedly surprising fans of the show.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Weekly Web Roundup (5/13/17)

Photo Credit: aka Quique
Here is a collection of items from around the web that caught my attention the past couple of weeks:

How to Raise an American Adult by Ben Sasse (The Wall Street Journal)
"We all know the noun adult. But I was perplexed last year to hear the new verb to adult. In social media, especially on Twitter and Instagram, it birthed a new hashtag: #adulting. As in: “Just paid this month’s bills on time #adulting,” or “Decided I couldn’t watch Netflix 8 hours straight and went to the grocery store instead #adulting.” It even got a nomination from the American Dialect Society for the most creative word of 2015. “Adulting” is an ironic way to describe engaging in adult behaviors, like paying taxes or doing chores—the sort of mundane tasks that responsibility demands. To a growing number of Americans, acting like a grown-up seems like a kind of role-playing, a mode of behavior requiring humorous detachment. Let me be clear: This isn’t an old man’s harrumph about “kids these days.” I still remember Doc Anderson standing in the street in 1988, yelling at me to slow down as I drove through his neighborhood in our small Nebraska town. I was 16 and couldn’t stand that guy. Years later, when I had children of my own, I returned to thank him. Maturation."
Teams in Mission: Are They Worth It? by David Sedlacek (The Exchange: Christianity Today)
"Teamwork has been a popular concept in missions theory and practice for decades, but there is a persistent sense among missionaries that teams may be more work than they are worth. Working alongside others, especially those of different cultures, is no easy task. It takes time, effort, and energy to work in a team, and it doesn’t always produce the fruit we look for. We’ve all heard this comment: our younger generation values teamwork, but the older generation doesn’t get it. Twenty-five years ago, as a member of the new generation of missionaries, I nodded my head in agreement. I thought, Yes, we value teamwork and the older generation doesn’t get it. Today, I am a member of the “older” generation. When I hear the familiar refrain, I’m tempted to respond, “Yes, the younger generation values teamwork, and we don’t get it.”"
Don’t Let Facebook Make You Miserable by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz (The New York Times)
"Friends have always showed off to friends. People have always struggled to remind themselves that other people don’t have it as easy as they claim. Think of the aphorism quoted by members of Alcoholics Anonymous: “Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides.” Of course, this advice is difficult to follow. We never see other people’s insides. I have actually spent the past five years peeking into people’s insides. I have been studying aggregate Google search data. Alone with a screen and anonymous, people tend to tell Google things they don’t reveal to social media; they even tell Google things they don’t tell to anybody else. Google offers digital truth serum. The words we type there are more honest than the pictures we present on Facebook or Instagram."
Reflections on the Meaning of Home by Scott Sauls
"Recently, our oldest daughter graduated from high school. To commemorate her accomplishment, Patti and I wrote her long Letters from Mom and Dad. In those letters, we walked down memory lane reflecting upon and getting nostalgic about her eighteen years of life. As we reminisced, it dawned on both of us that, while we gave the girl opportunities, we never gave the girl roots…at least not with respect to place. To date, she has lived in seven different homes and attended eight different schools in five different cities. Contemplating the quasi-nomadic upbringing that we imposed on our daughter, Patti wrote in her Letter from Mom, “I am so so so sorry…and you’re welcome.” 
The “I’m sorry” part makes good sense. Moving of any kind is disorienting, especially in childhood. It uproots a child from friends, teachers, neighborhoods and familiar spaces. It digs a hole in the heart, uprooting and re-rooting like that. For better or for worse, our daughter’s story has become the same as mine. It’s a story with no lifelong friends or neighbors or houses from childhood. Instead, it’s the story of a traveler. What good could come from seven homes and eight schools and five cities in eighteen years? Why on earth would my wife feel compelled to say “You’re welcome” right after saying “I’m so so so sorry” to our daughter? I believe it’s because regret and hope don’t have to be mutually exclusive."
A Theology of Race

Here's a helpful video from Jemar Tisby on what the Bible means when it refers to race or, more appropriately, ethnicity.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Weekly Web Roundup (4/29/17)

Photo Credit:
US Department of Education
Here is a collection of items from around the web that caught my attention the past couple of weeks:

Sorry Weber, Durkheim, and Marx: Educated Evangelicals Are More Religious by Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra (Christianity Today)
"Evangelicals who graduated from college are more likely than those who didn’t enroll to attend religious services at least weekly (68% vs. 55%), to pray daily (83% vs. 77%), and to believe in God with absolute certainty (90% vs. 87%). They’re also more likely to say religion is very important to them (81% vs. 79%). Those numbers aren’t a fluke; when Pew broke the categories down further, the trend continued. Evangelicals who earned a graduate degree after college are the most committed to their faith; those who dropped out of high school are the least committed."
The Missing Piece in American International Missions by Courtlandt Perkins (Reformed African American Network)
"In many places, ethnicity and faith are deeply connected to a people group’s identity, so to only see people with white skin representing Christ speaks volumes about what Christians look like. The human heart naturally doesn’t want to receive Christ due to depravity, but what if the dark skin of a missionary helps them be received into an African village, simply because they look familiar? The unreached will physically see that Jesus changes the lives of people who look like them. African American missionaries could inspire a generation of African missionaries to receive Christ, and take His message to places AA’s could never go. In the same way, sending Hispanic-American missionaries to Latin American countries, we could help deconstruct the notions of white superiority, and point to the reality that white Christians do not have the copyright of international missions. It is obvious the issues run deeper than just numbers. The reality is often rooted in inherit racial bias and historical discrimination. But my friend’s words resound deeply with me: “Diversity is a powerful (and much needed) tool for witness.”"
6 Tech Habits Changing the American Home (Barna Group)
"Technology is literally everywhere in our homes—not only the devices in our pockets but the invisible electromagnetic waves that flood our homes,” writes Andy Crouch in his new book The Tech-Wise Family, written in partnership with original Barna research. “This change has come about overnight, in the blink of an eye in terms of human history and culture. When previous generations confronted the perplexing challenges of parenting and family life, they could fall back on wisdom, or at least old wives’ tales, that had been handed down for generations. But the pace of technological change has surpassed anyone’s capacity to develop enough wisdom to handle it. We are stuffing our lives with technology’s new promises, with no clear sense of whether technology will help us keep the promises we’ve already made."
The Legitimacy of Ethnic Churches in Multi-Ethnic Contexts by Andrew Ong (Reformed Margins)
"While pursuing a church demographic that proportionally matches the community’s might be a helpful and wise benchmark for certain churches, to impose any particular vision of unity and diversity upon a local church strikes me as mechanistic. This is especially true since the automobile has fundamentally altered our conception of communities’ bounds. How many of us worship at the closest Christian church to our home? Binding local churches to the norm of multi-ethnicity is mechanistic if our conception of church unity is absolutely bound by spatial-location. Is a church less faithful if it’s attended by more people who live ten minutes away by car than people who live ten minutes away by foot? Didn’t Jesus just say that his sheep would hear his voice?"
One Teenager's (Supremely Brilliant) Perspective on Social Media (Scott Sauls)
"When I finally spent a week “unplugging” from my phone, I realized that the withdrawals I experienced from disengaging from the app were a sign of the control it had over me. This control scared me and made me angry because I had willingly put myself in an unnecessary position to compare my insides to others’ outsides, to be controlled by my appearance and people’s opinions, and to hurt others and myself with my comments, posts, or digital footprint. This unnerved me because it was a dangerous trap that had been disguised by an attractive, socially acceptable, and necessary staple of popularity. After I deleted my social media accounts, I began to notice how other teenagers my age were trapped in the same digital world that I was. I wanted to understand why this was happening. What exactly are we as a society risking with the constant attachment to our screens?"
Why a racially insensitive photo of Southern Baptist seminary professors matters by Jemar Tisby (The Washington Post)
"But the biggest problem doesn’t show up in the picture. The presence of any person of color would have reduced the chances of this photo ever happening. But a photo like this evolves in an environment that lacks meaningful interaction with people from other cultures, especially on the leadership level. The seminary’s website appears to picture all white men in an administration and an entire preaching faculty. Even if a school has diversity in the student body, if the decision-makers all come from a similar racial and cultural background, then they will remain oblivious to their own racial blind spots."
The Guide to Being a Detroit Sports Fan by Dan Holmes (Detroit Athletic Blog)
"What does it mean to be a Detroit sports fan? What should we all know? What do we need to know? Not everyone has the answers to these questions, so I wrote them all down in one place. Enjoy."

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Weekly Web Roundup (4/15/17)

Photo Credit:
World Bank Photo Collection
Here is a collection of items from around the web that caught my attention over this past week:

'What a total God shot!' Understand that? Then you speak Christianese by Patrick Cox (
"This religious dialect is spoken by increasing numbers of English-speaking Christians, especially evangelicals. And it isn't just deployed for Bible study. Everyday non-religious conversation is also sprinkled with words from the scriptures, and phrases popularized by charismatic preachers and writers. So for example, instead of "results," you might hear a Christianese speaker refer to "fruits." Instead of "thoughtful," "intentional." Christanese can also depart slightly from English grammar: "My friend spoke into my life." "I was called to move to Nicaragua." It's code, a useful way for believers to seek out like-minded people."
Who Would Jesus Abort? Confessions of a “Christian” Abortion Doctor by Russell Moore
"The biggest hurdle, though, for Parker, is to redefine life itself. Like many in the abortion movement, Parker scoffs at the possibility of fetal personhood because the child is small, “no bigger, from crown to rump, than the first two digits of my pinkie finger,” and because the child cannot live, in most cases, on his or her own outside the womb. He seems to recognize though that lack of size and lack of power won’t be persuasive on their own, so he continues to what he sees as the real problem: the idea that life is “a miracle.” Parker writes that to say that “conception, or birth, or even death is ‘miraculous’ does an injustice to God.” Life is, instead, he argues, merely “a process.” As I read this abortion doctor’s repeated inveighing against the metaphor of “miracle” for human life, I could not help but be reminded of Wendell Berry’s manifesto against scientism and materialism, which he says demotes humanity from creature to machine. The rejection of the miracle of life, Berry wrote, leaves us with the coldness of abstraction."
How Single Women Became an Unstoppable Force in Bible Translation by Kate Shellnutt (Christianity Today)
"Though women in Bible translation are well represented in the field, they remain underrepresented in leadership positions. In recent years, SIL has worked to bring more women into administrative leadership, believing that “God works through women and men of every ethnic group and age level, and calls them to be involved in leadership roles in all facets of our organizational life.” Women mostly feel free to focus on the work they were called to in the first place—getting more people access to the Bible in their own languages—but the pressure’s still there. Everyone on the mission field works hard and sacrifices much; women may notice themselves working extra hard to demonstrate their contributions."
How Isiah Thomas became the greatest Detroit Piston ever by Bill Dow (Detroit Free Press)
"And then there was Isiah Lord Thomas III, the player whose impact turned around the once floundering franchise and laid the foundation for the construction of one of the premier arenas in basketball, especially for its time. Thomas blossomed into the Pistons' fearless leader during his career, cementing a legacy befitting of his middle name. During his 13-year career, he established himself as one of the greatest “small men” in NBA history. A dangerous shooter and spectacular playmaker, he still is the franchise’s all-time leader in points (18,822), assists (9,061), steals (1,861) and minutes played (35,516). The 12-time All-Star was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000 and was named to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time team. “Simply put, Isiah Thomas was the difference maker and the key to the franchise’s success,” says Tom Wilson, the former Pistons president and CEO and right-hand man to the late club owner Bill Davidson. Wilson was the project manager of the Palace and first suggested the pioneering concourse-level suites. The arena opened in 1988. “Internally," Wilson said, "we called the Palace 'The House that Isiah Built.' "
That's My King Dr. S.M. Lockridge

In honor of the commemoration and celebration of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ that Christians around the worldwide recognize this weekend, here's a video that reminds us about the King of Kings.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

When Stereotypes Go Bad

Photo Credit: Peter.Lorre
It was several years ago and I was sitting down to dinner with a number of pastors from another part of the world. I was speaking at a conference and these men were guests of the conference host.

A mutual friend introduced me to them and shared that I had worked for many years with The Impact Movement, a ministry focused on African American college students.

After settling into our meal and getting acquainted with one another, one of the men asked me, "Can I ask you a question? Why do Black people like fried chicken so much?"

Inwardly appalled by his inquiry, I composed myself and responded, "What makes you think that?"

He went onto share that although he didn't know any Black Americans personally, he inferred from watching American television programs and movies that this was true. He simply wanted to know why and thought I might be able to help him. Knowing that English was not this brother's first language, I took the time to clarify his question and to make sure that I comprehended him as best as I could.

Confident that what I heard was what he had asked, I posed a question, as well as a follow-up to him:
I asked, "Have you ever had fried chicken?" 
He said, "Of course! Many times." 
I then asked, "Do you like it?" 
He responded, "Of course!" 
I said, "I do too. So I guess there are lot of people that probably like fried chicken, including the both of us."
I then went on to explain that unfair stereotypes -- ways of categorizes groups of people without viewing them as individuals -- had been woven into our country's history, especially as it pertained to African Americans. In order for those in power -- yes, even some Christian pastors -- to justify the dehumanization of those of African descent, negative stereotypes of Black people had developed over time. Sadly, many of these stereotypes persist to this day.

I could have assumed there was racist intent behind the man's question but I don't think that would have been fair...nor helpful. He had little context for American history and admittedly knew no African Americans personally. His question came from a place of unawareness and not ill-intent. He had been exposed to a stereotype about Black Americans that wasn't being applied to other ethnic groups and he simply wanted to know if it was true. I attempted to address his question in the most gracious and helpful way I could.

In the case of African Americans and fried chicken, the curious might wonder how this specific stereotype might have come about. Gene Demby with NPR provides some history:
"What is it with this stereotype about black people loving fried chicken? 
I asked Claire Schmidt for help. She's a professor at the University of Missouri who studies race and folklore. Schmidt said chickens had long been a part of Southern diets, but they had particular utility for slaves. They were cheap, easy to feed and a good source of meat. But then, Schmidt says, came Birth of a Nation. 
D.W. Griffith's seminal and supremely racist 1915 silent movie about the supposedly heroic founding of the Ku Klux Klan was a huge sensation when it debuted. One scene features a group of actors portraying shiftless black elected officials acting rowdy and crudely in a legislative hall. (The message to the audience: These are the dangers of letting blacks vote.) Some of the legislators are shown drinking. Others had their feet kicked up on their desks. And one of them was very ostentatiously eating fried chicken. "That image really solidified the way white people thought of black people and fried chicken," Schmidt said. 
Schmidt said that like watermelon, that other food that's been a mainstay in racist depictions of blacks, chicken was also a good vehicle for racism because of the way people eat it. (According to government stats, blacks are underrepresented among watermelon consumers.) "It's a food you eat with your hands, and therefore it's dirty," Schmidt said. "Table manners are a way of determining who is worthy of respect or not." 
But why does this idea still hold traction, since fried chicken is clearly a staple of the American diet? Surely, KFC, Popeyes and Church's ain't national chains — and chicken and waffles aren't a brunch staple — because of the supposed culinary obsessions of black folks. "It's still a way to express racial [contempt] without getting into serious trouble," Schmidt said. (Among the Code Switch team, we've started referring to these types of winking statements as "racist bank shots.") 
"How it's possible to be both a taboo and a corporate mainstream thing just shows how complicated race in America is," Schmidt said."
In discussing the topic of stereotypes, it may be helpful to explore the origin of the word. It seems that the term originated as a result of the printing press. When books were being printed, it was a laborious process for the printer to have to set the type to new molds for each book being printed. With limited supplies available, it meant that other books couldn't be printed while those on the press were being created. When books that were popular had to be printed over and over, it felt even more time consuming to have to do the same process with each printing.

Eventually, it was discovered that a printer could create a mold of already set type and cast large metal plates so that the book could be quickly printed again at a future date. Once the "stereotype" plates were created, the set type could be taken apart and used for other projects. This made the job much easier for the printer. They didn't have to think about searching for the right letters and carefully placing them in the right order to print the book. They could just slap the plate down and, Voila!, an exact reproduction of the book could be created.

In the world of printing books, it was discovered that stereotyping can be a wonderful way to ensure consistency in product while saving significant time and money.

But, when it comes to people, stereotypes can be destructive.

Stereotypes can strip people of their humanity and leave them with nothing more than a label placed upon them that is not of their choosing. Even if a common belief about a certain group of people might be generally true (e.g. Canadians like hockey), we must resist the temptation to treat people as weird if they do not meet the expectations that we have presumed upon them.

When we assume we know everything about a person because of how they look or where they are from, it prevents us from learning who they are as individuals. Each human being is a expression of the handiwork of God and they deserve much more than a stereotype to define them.

The Bible tells us that God created us uniquely and that He even knows the number of hairs on our head. In light of this, doesn't it make sense that we would seek to know our fellow image bearers of God as individuals and not simply categorize them based on lazy stereotypes?

Let us do the hard work of "resetting the machine" for each person God gives us the privilege of encountering. It takes great time and effort but, in the end, we will discover that viewing each person as an individual is better than settling for a stereotyped copy.

(h/t to my friend Rasool Berry for his assistance in writing this post and to Mental Floss on the origin of the term stereotype.)

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Weekly Web Roundup (4/8/17)

Photo Credit: Amaza Design
Here is a collection of items from around the web that caught my attention over this past week:

How to be a Tech-Wise Family & manage kids, technology & family by Andy Crouch (
"Some of our happiest times as a family have been spent on this first floor, lit entirely by candlelight and the glow of a wood fire. Why wait for a power outage? The Wi-Fi and cell signals are there, all right—but we can choose to ignore them, turning instead to conversation, music, books, or silence. Indeed, on Sundays that is what we intentionally do, all day long. And all the most beautiful and striking things—everything that would start a conversation or capture a child’s attention—require our active engagement. Children love this, by the way. They thrive in a world stocked with raw materials. Too often, and with the best of intentions, we fill their world with technology instead—devices that ask very little of them. A cheap electronic keyboard makes a few monotonous sounds, while an expensive one promises to make all kinds of sounds. But actually, neither the cheap keyboard nor the expensive one has anything like the depth and range of possibility of an acoustic piano. A single pencil can produce more “colors” of gray and black than the most high-tech screen can reproduce. For a child’s creative development, the inexpensive, deep, organic thing is far better than the expensive, broad, electronic thing."
Faceless of the Game: Where have all the MLB superstars gone? by Jayson Stark (
"For more than three decades, dating to the arrival of Bird and Magic, the NBA has embraced star power as the secret sauce for How To Sell Your League. And baseball? Not so much. "Baseball has always promoted the game," [Arn] Tellem says. "But it's been more about the game and its history. And it's been less about the individual players." Tellem sees that approach beginning to change. Finally. But in a star-driven society, he said, it can't shift gears fast enough. "Baseball is at a point now where they have to reach the youth of America," he says. "And clearly, [promoting] the game is important. But it's about using stars and developing stars and helping them become bigger names, as a way of reaching the youth. And baseball has to see that convincing [those stars] and having them participate will serve the game."
‘S-Town’ Explores the Maze of the Divine Clockmaker’s Mind by Kaitlyn Schiess (Christianity Today)
"My favorite professor likes to say that a biblical view of humanity “needs to start in Genesis 1, not Genesis 3.” In saying so, he’s arguing for a fuller picture of what Scripture tells us about ourselves—not only that we’re fallen and sinful, but that each and every one of us is made in the image of God. It’s actually the combination of these ideas that most fully explains both the goodness and evil of which humans are capable: We display—albeit brokenly and imperfectly—characteristics that point us to the perfect character of our God. Christians can find signs of this eternal truth in highly unusual places, such as the incredibly successful podcast S-Town."
How Japanese Americans Survived Internment in WW2 by Emily Wilson (The Daily Beast)
"With President Trump having issued executive orders for two travel bans for majority Muslim countries, both blocked by federal judges, the history of rounding up a group of people based on ethnicity or religion seems especially relevant and urgent. A couple weeks before the exhibition’s [Exclusion: The Presidio’s Role in World War II Japanese American Incarceration] opening, Eric Blind, the director of Heritage Programs for the Presidio, showed me the space that would house it. Outside the entrance visitors will see a telephone pole with a replica of the poster telling all Japanese Americans to report to that buses that would take them to the camps. “It’s an ordinary object with an extraordinary pronouncement,” he said. “We want to create this empathy with people seeing the order—not just if you were Japanese Americans, but their friends and neighbors—about how would you feel if you saw this on a telephone pole?”"
Black Eye on America - What Is Black Twitter?: The Daily Show

Roy Wood Jr. explains how the African-American community uses Twitter to discuss social issues and finds out why that communication is unique to black culture.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Weekly Web Roundup (4/1/17)

Photo Credit: fazen
Here is a collection of items from around the web that caught my attention over this past week:

The LAUNCH Survey: Helpful and Hindering Factors for Launching into Long-Term Missions by  Megan R. Brown and John W. McVay (The Exchange)
"Clearly, relationships are key in journeying toward lifelong service in the Kingdom of God overseas. Nearly all of the respondents indicated that God’s guidance and call were essential to their successful pursuit of overseas work. Additionally, having a good support network, including friends and family, a mentor, long-term workers, and a good agency, team, or leader were remembered to be helpful in the process. This is congruent with studies completed in recent years (Matenga and Gold 2016). A 2013 qualitative study with missionaries from Australia found that 100% of the interviewees were influenced by other missionaries prior to launch (Hibbert, Hibbert, and Silberman 2015). Additionally, surveys completed by the Christian Community Health Fellowship found that 80% of students who did a rotation early in their training with a Christian physician who was practicing quality faith-based medicine, as well as attending a healthcare missions conference, chose a path to serve the poor through missional medicine (CCHF Follow-Up Survey)."
Here’s How Many Books You Can Expect to Read Before You Die (Mental Floss)

Ever wonder how many books you've read in your lifetime? Or how many you'll be able to read before the end of your life? This handy chart helps give you an idea of how your regular reading habits play out over the course of a lifetime.

Crux listens as Africans ask: Why isn't it big news when terrorists slaughter our people? by Terry Mattingly (Get Religion)
"Of course, as Pope Francis has noted (in the kind of statement that draws relatively little news coverage), there is more to ideological or cultural colonization than money and political power. There is the cultural power of elite media, especially entertainment media, and the causes favored by their leaders. Who typically receives more news coverage today, a YouTube sensation pop star or a Wall Street magnate whose decisions affect millions? But there is an even larger question here: Who do ordinary readers want to read about? In other words, does this problem have something to do with the values of the marketplace, in this age when power is measured in Twitter followers and mouse "clicks"? Which story would receive the most coverage in African media, the death of Beyonce or the latest massacre of a hundred Christians in Northern Nigeria by Boko Haram? I think I know the answer to that question, even though it makes me angry."
Check Your Privilege Obsession by Tish Harrison Warren (Christianity Today)
"At their worst, privilege enforcers descend into sheer cruelty. Bovy includes a story about online commenters blasting the “privilege” of a promising 22-year-old who tragically died. No longer able to gather around a common humanity with our shared frailty and pain, we are reduced to ruthlessly sorting between those who “deserve” our sympathy and those who don’t. I wonder if our privilege obsession arises in part from an epistemic problem: In a world that considers individual experience the primary arbiter of truth, how do we navigate the cacophony of conflicting reality-claims? One way is to create a hierarchy where some voices are valued more than others. Therefore, the “privilege” framework, like fundamentalism or certain forms of religious rhetoric, can demand unquestioning adherence."
America's Cult of Ignorance—And the Death of Expertise by Tom Nichols (The Daily Beast)
"These are dangerous times. Never have so many people had so much access to so much knowledge and yet have been so resistant to learning anything. In the United States and other developed nations, otherwise intelligent people denigrate intellectual achievement and reject the advice of experts. Not only do increasing numbers of lay people lack basic knowledge, they reject fundamental rules of evidence and refuse to learn how to make a logical argument. In doing so, they risk throwing away centuries of accumulated knowledge and undermining the practices and habits that allow us to develop new knowledge."

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

13 Books to Help You Live in Multi-Ethnic Community

It has been over twenty years since God started me on a journey of learning as I began a lifestyle of crossing cultures within my ministry and daily life. Initially much of this was directly related to my role as a campus missionary with Cru. But, over time, my appreciation for those from different cultural backgrounds has grown to the degree where I have a high value of regularly interacting with those whose cultural values are different than my own.  

Part of this journey has also involved learning about what it means to be part of multi-cultural teams and to live in multi-ethnic community. I have had the privilege of being on multi-ethnic teams where I have been both in the minority and in the majority. I have also enjoyed the opportunity to be led -- both spiritually and vocationally -- by those that are of a different ethnic background than me.

In addition to the many ways I've benefited personally and learned from friends and colleagues over these past two decades, I have also found a number of books that have helped put words to the feelings I have experienced. These authors have assisted me in the process of learning more about myself and others and helped in answering questions that had me perplexed.

Here are 13 books that I recommend to guide you in learning what it means to live in multi-ethnic, Christian community. I've read each of these books, except for a few. In those cases, I trust the authors and the content enough to recommend them to you. Here they are (in no particular order):

1. Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church by Soong-Chan Rah
"Soong-Chan Rah's book is intended to equip evangelicals for ministry and outreach in our changing nation. Borrowing from the business concept of "cultural intelligence," he explores how God's people can become more multiculturally adept. From discussions about cultural and racial histories, to reviews of case-study churches and Christian groups that are succeeding in bridging ethnic divides, Rah provides a practical and hopeful guidebook for Christians wanting to minister more effectively in diverse settings."

2. The Wolf Shall Dwell with the Lamb: A Spirtuality for Leadership in a Multi-Cultural Community by Eric Law
"This groundbreaking work explores how certain cultures consciously and unconsciously dominate in multicultural situations and what can be done about it."

3. Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America by Michael O. Emerson & Christian Smith
"Through a nationwide telephone survey of 2,000 people and an additional 200 face-to-face interviews, Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith probed the grassroots of white evangelical America. They found that despite recent efforts by the movement's leaders to address the problem of racial discrimination, evangelicals themselves seem to be preserving America's racial chasm. In fact, most white evangelicals see no systematic discrimination against blacks. But the authors contend that it is not active racism that prevents evangelicals from recognizing ongoing problems in American society. Instead, it is the evangelical movement's emphasis on individualism, free will, and personal relationships that makes invisible the pervasive injustice that perpetuates racial inequality."

4. Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart by Christena Cleveland
"Despite Jesus' prayer that all Christians "be one," divisions have been epidemic in the body of Christ from the beginning to the present. We cluster in theological groups, gender groups, age groups, ethnic groups, educational and economic groups. We criticize freely those who disagree with us, don't look like us, don't act like us and don't even like what we like. Though we may think we know why this happens, we probably don't. In this eye-opening book, learn the hidden reasons behind conflict and divisions."

5. Living in Color: Embracing God's Passion for Ethnic Diversity by Randy Woodley
"Though our Christian experience is often blandly monochromatic, God intends for us to live in dynamic, multihued communities that embody his vibrant creativity. Randy Woodley, a Keetowah Cherokee, casts a biblical, multiethnic vision for people of every nation, tribe and tongue. He carefully unpacks how Christians should think about racial and cultural identity, demonstrating that ethnically diverse communities have always been God's intent for his people. Woodley gives practical insights for how we can relate to one another with sensitivity, contextualize the gospel, combat the subtleties of racism, and honor one another's unique contributions to church and society."

6. Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility by Duane Elmer
"Duane Elmer asked people around the world how they felt about Western missionaries. The response? "Missionaries could be more effective if they did not think they were better than us." The last thing we want to do in cross-cultural ministry is to offend people in other cultures. Unfortunately, all too often and even though we don't mean it, our actions communicate superiority, paternalism, imperialism and arrogance. Our best intentions become unintentional insults. How can we minister in ways that are received as true Christlike service? Cross-cultural specialist Duane Elmer gives Christians practical advice for serving other cultures with sensitivity and humility."

7. Reconciliation Blues: A Black Evangelical's Inside View of White Christianity by Edward Gilbreath
"What is the state of racial reconciliation in evangelical churches today? Are we truly united? In Reconciliation Blues journalist Edward Gilbreath gives an insightful, honest picture of both the history and the present state of racial reconciliation in evangelical churches. In his thoughtful overview he looks at a wide range of figures, such as Howard O. Jones, Tom Skinner, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Jesse Jackson and John Perkins. Charting progress as well as setbacks, his words offer encouragement for black evangelicals feeling alone, clarity for white evangelicals who want to understand more deeply, and fresh vision for all who want to move forward toward Christ's prayer "that all of them may be one.""

8. Right Color, Wrong Culture: The Type of Leader Your Organization Needs to Become Multiethnic by Bryan Loritts
"Increasingly, leaders recognize the benefit of multi-ethnic organizations and are compelled to hire diverse individuals who will help them reflect a new America. [Loritts] brings a challenge to leaders in this fable of self-discovery and change, as he explores the central, critical problem leaders often encounter when transitioning their church, business, or organization to reflect a multi-ethnic reality: finding a leader who is willing to immerse themselves in the environments and lives of people who are different from them."

9. Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space and Influence by MaryKate Morse
"You don't just lead with your voice and your decisions. You lead with your body. The way you take up space in a room, the way you use or don't use your body in group settings, influences others. And all of us hold power to lead in our bodies. Yet, pastor and spiritual director MaryKate Morse contends, most of us are unaware of the ways we do or can use our bodies to influence others. Some of us cower in the corner, trying to hide. Others try to speak but are never heard. Still others are the focal point as soon as they walk in a room. What makes the difference? And how can we learn to lead in our own individual way with confidence?"

10. Bridging the Diversity Gap: Leading Toward God's Multi-Ethnic Kingdom by Alvin Sanders
"In a diverse, divided world, pastors and church leaders are faced with the question of how to lead across ethnic lines to bring healing and unity to the body of Christ. How can the church more accurately reflect the vision of God's kingdom, gathering together every tribe and nation? It all begins with leaders whose minds and hearts have been transformed by the gospel. Author Alvin Sanders believes the church is facing a chairos moment—the right time—to address the issue of ethnic division and tension within the church. Through this book, he offers a how-to resource for Christian leaders to lead their organizations in a majority-minority, multi-ethnic America."

11. United: Captured by God's Vision for Diversity by Trillia J. Newbell
"On the Last Day every tongue and tribe will be represented in the glorious chorus praising God with one voice. Yet today our churches remain segregated. Can we reflect the beauty of the last day this day? United will inspire, challenge, and encourage readers to pursue the joys of diversity through stories of the author's own journey and a theology of diversity lived out. It’s time to capture a glimpse of God’s magnificent creativity. In the pages of United, Trillia Newbell reveals the deeply moving, transforming power of knowing—really knowing—someone who is equal yet unique. As we learn to identify in Christ rather than in our commonalities, we begin to experience the depth and power of gospel unity."

12. Breaking Down Walls: A Model for Reconciliation in an Age of Racial Strife by Raleigh Washington & Glen Kehrein
This is a classic resource for Christians from different cultural backgrounds that are seeking to understand one another. Breaking Down Walls suggest several principles on how we can be reconciled with one another for God's glory. This was one of the first books that I ever read on this subject.

13. Red, Brown, Yellow, Black, White—Who's More Precious In God's Sight?: A call for diversity in Christian missions and ministry by Leroy Barber & Velma Maia Thomas
"[This book] highlights the historic patterns that have created racial discrepancies within missions. With a no-blame attitude, powerful personal narratives from a dozen other black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American and white Christians, interactive histories of missions, and the writings of MLK and Howard Thurman (the entire "Letter From Birmingham Jail" and Howard Thurman's motivational speech "Sound of the Genuine"), Barber addresses this tough issue in a way that will inspire and motivate readers of all races toward change."

I hope you find these books helpful for you in your own journey toward multi-ethnic community and I'd love to hear from you any suggestions about other books you have found beneficial as well.